If you have watched one episode of any news network in the last month, then you are well aware of the tornado that devastated the Joplin, MO area. Family and friends lives were forever changed as a result of that horrific evening.
Since the storm I have had a lot of people ask me about the storms in this area. Michiganders show a wide range of emotions when talking about storms like this. Most express fear, some intrigue, and others just want to go storm chasing. While I don't encourage the latter, as it can be dangerous to your well being, the reality is that Missourians, along with many other mid-westerners are fully aware of the threat of storms and most are prepared in some form or fashion to deal with their devastation. Joplin is also a testament to the resilience of
the people themselves. People have come from miles around like always happens in these tragedies, but there is something else that has happened there. The community, government, churches, and other relief organizations have all united to help people cope with their loss.
If you have read this far, you are likely saying, "Anthony, this is a food blog and this has nothing to do with food, and frankly its a little depressing". I understand how you feel, but I think it has everything to do with food. Let me explain why.
Just last week my wife and I headed back to the area that I grew up in. Schell City, Missouri is a small rural community north of Joplin. It was founded by Augustus Schell back in the 1800's. The railroad was a vital part of the city in its early life, and it is one of those small towns that is slowly decaying as the world moves on leaving it to its history. This place is a very import part of my life because it is where I spent my first 18 years It is 18 miles to the first substantial town, but it is in this small rural community where my love of food really began.
My father loved to get in the car and drive when I was a kid. Gas was cheap and there was lots of country to see so we would jump in the car and head off in one direction or another and inevitably end up at some food destination that he likely had in mind but never made us privy to. It might have been to a local town like Rich Hill for a Hickory Log at the Wagon Wheel (it burned when I was a kid) this was a hoggie style sandwhich with thinly sliced beef and topped with this fantastic hickory bar-b-que sauce that you could rub on a shoe and it would have been good to eat. We would often head to the local drive inn like Simone's in Eldo Rado Springs or Del Way in Nevada. Both of these establishments have a long history and are still serving up great burgers and fries. It might be off to Kansas City to the Golden Ox on a special occasion or even Arthur Bryants for some great BBQ. Both of these are long running establishements with rich history as well.
But my real love of food started in the kitchen of an old farm house just outside of town. As a young boy my parents sought out a baby sitter that would instill good values in me and it just so happened that there was a local Mennonite family that owned a dairy just outside town. They had several daughters that were just the right baby sitter age. Turned out I was watched by the family and the girls collected the money (still a joke to this day). But I remember sitting many hours on a stool in the corner of the kitchen watching fresh bread, jams and jellies, cookies, and especially fresh tortillas being made. In the summer and fall there was canning and storing of every kind of vegetable, fruit that we could grow on the place all in the midst of preparing three meals a day for a table of eleven. I really do not know how Grandma did it and kept her sanity.
It was in these moments of watching, and smelling, and tasting that my true love for great foods began. As I sit here on my porch tonight I can smell and taste the fresh bread and "pluck its"(monkey bread) that were churned out every week. I think Bourdain is right in describing such food experiences. He describes the first time he ate an oyster in great detail and says that is what started him on his life as a foodie. The bread started it for me, and from their a whole new world has opened up.
Last week as we went around to various restaurants, enjoyed ribs with friends who were roasting wild boar, and even headed back to a Mennonite kitchen I once again remembered what makes this place so special. It is in these places that I found once again why I really a proud to be from a little town just north of tornado alley. It is a beautiful place with great food, and great people. Interestingly enough it is also a place that is becoming more culturally diverse. In the coming posts, I will describe for you some great food experiences, and "Mennonite Disco". You won't want to miss that!
Passion for food!
If your reading this then you likely find yourself in a category that many classify as foodie. That is simply to say that you love food. I too, am a food lover, and I love to experience the eclectic mix of food opportunities that Metro Detroit has to offer. I have created this site because I love to explore new restaurants, tastes, and cultures. My work has granted me the opportunity to experience all of this, both here in Metro Detroit, and in other parts of the world. Detroit is a wonderful mix of some of the worlds best foods. I hope that reading these entries will stir you to want to experience something new and exciting.